Vintage hat trick

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To the accompaniment of the Lodz MPK brass band, actor Marcel Szytenchelm relaunches the restored 1928 ‘Sanok’ tram at the former inter-urban tram station in Lodz on 31 July 2010. Video by brite77.

Yesterday was a good day; I had a phone call from Tomasz Adamkiewicz, would I like to go from a tram ride? You bet I would. Tomek owns a number of vintage tram cars which he has rescued and restored to their past glory. Which tram would he be showing off today? We arranged that I should join him at Radogoszcz, a location difficult to mistake – a tall memorial marks the spot where, in January 1945, the retreating Germans set fire to a factory building, burning alive some 2,000 prisoners.

I waited at the Radogoszcz tram stop. A selection of Lodz trams rattled past. There were plenty of modernized Konstal 805Nas, a couple of new PESA 122Ns and an ex Fryburgu Düwag GT8 running the Miedzygminna Komunikacja Tramwajowa inter-urban service to Ozorkow. But none of these was Tomek’s tram. At last a green ancient four wheeler came into view, going like the blazes – the 1928 ‘Sanok’. Later Tomek was to admit that the only non authentic parts used in its restoration were its the motors. The original ‘Sanoks’ had a top speed of 35 km/h (22 mph). Tomek’s ‘hotted-up’ version is capable of 60 km/h (38 mph)!

Tomek found the Sanok in a garden in Wisniowa Gora near Lodz some 11 years ago. By then it had lost its chassis. He bought the body for 250 zloty. It cost him another 350 zloty to move it to the MPK tram depot at Helenowek, where he had be given permission to store the vehicle. Working as a MPK fitter during the day, he worked on his beloved Sanok at night, gradually collecting or making the missing parts.

The first part of our journey was on the route of the realaid LRT (Lodz ‘fast tram’) route running along reserved track alongside ul. Zgierska and then down the centre of ul Zachodnia. Then Tomek hopped out and changed the points at the 3-way junction with ul. Legionow. With a squeal of flanges we ran through the south-east curve at the junction and were running down the middle of a cobbled street. The ‘Sanok’ was in its natural element. Film makers looking for pre-war Polish street scenes need look no further.

We ran across ul. Wlokniarzy, under the viaduct carrying the Lodz Kaliska to Kutno railway line, and alongide the right-hand side of ul. Legionow down to Zdrowie. Here a single line of track carries on invitingly to the East – the Lodzkie Tramwaje Podmiejskie inter-urban line, but Tomek has had a row with the Tramwaje Podmiejskie over some vintage trams that the latter had sold and our ‘running rights’ did not include the track to Konstantynow and Lutomiersk. So Tomek got out again and changed the points to run down the short spur to the Zdrowie loop. We ran back to ul Legionow and here I made my farewells to Tomek and waited for my lift.

By curious coincidence my next journey, this time by car, took me on to Lutomiersk. Here I had come to view a brand new house built from logs! Such construction is actually cheaper and healthier than modern breeze block, cement and brick technology. It took the contractor some 2 months to precisely shape all the wooden logs. Amazingly the actually construction of the walls and roof on site only took three days.

While standing back from the house I saw a farmer driving a traditional horse and cart. Nothing unusual about that in Poland, you may say, but this cart was pulled by two horses. The three actors in yesterdays drama came from completely different backgrounds: Tomek the tram fitter, doing extra overtime to pay for the parts he needs to restore his collection of vintage trams; the couple of college lecturers who decided to build a wooden house, the young farmer who could afford a second-hand tractor, but prefers to employ horses. All of them are making a statement about preserving and celebrating all that was best from the past. There is hope for Poland yet.

Footnote

As part of Lodz’s celebration of Dni Publicznego Transportu (Public Transport Days) Tomasz Adamkiewicz’s vintage ‘Sanok’ is running a special ‘H1’ public service from 16 – 22 September. You can view the timetable details here and here.

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4 Responses to “Vintage hat trick”

  1. Michael Dembinski Says:

    Germans retreating from Lodz two months after WWII had ended in Europe? No mention of this in the Ghetto Litzmannstadt article in Wikipedia…

  2. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    Possibly a good reason to visit Lodz next year!! Nicely restored!

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